Crescent moon sets stage for brilliant Leonids meteor shower

Nov 16, 2012 by Janet Anderson
Crescent moon sets stage for brilliant Leonids meteor shower
False-color video still from 2002 Leonid meteor shower, seen through a camera operated by the NASA Meteoroid Environment Office at Marshall Space Flight Center. Credit: NASA/MSFC/B. Cooke

(Phys.org)—The 2012 Leonid meteor shower peaks on the night/morning of Nov. 16-17. If forecasters are correct, the shower should produce a mild but pretty sprinkling of meteors over North America, followed by a more intense outburst over Asia. The new moon will set the stage for what could be one of the best Leonid showers in years.

"We're predicting 20-30 meteors per hour over the Americas, and as many as 200-300 per hour over Asia," says Bill Cooke of the Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. "Our forecast is in good accord with independent theoretical work by other astronomers."

The Marshall Center will offer a live Ustream telescope view of the skies over Huntsville, Ala., on the night of Nov. 16-17. Clear weather is forecast, so make plans to share our skies if your doesn't cooperate. The live Ustream feed will be embedded on this page on the afternoon of Friday, Nov. 16.

Do YOU Have Some Great Leonid Images?

If you capture the in photos, we invite you to add them to our Flickr "Leonid Meteors" group. This is a great resource to help your images get extra attention from the general public...and perhaps the worldwide media.

More About the Leonids / How to View Them

Leonids are bits of debris from Comet Tempel-Tuttle. Every 33 years the comet visits the inner solar system and leaves a stream of dusty debris in its wake. Many of these streams have drifted across the November portion of Earth's orbit. Whenever our planet hits one, appear to be flying out of the constellation Leo. For best meteor viewing Cooke suggests going to a location away from city lights, dressing warmly, and lie flat on your back and look straight up. No special viewing equipment needed—just your eyes.

Explore further: NASA spacecraft almost to Pluto: Smile for the camera!

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